Why Gardner-Webb Basketball Needed an Updated Brand

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A look at the new Gardner-Webb basketball locker and film room. (Image via Centerfold)

*Centerfold Agency is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports

Updating brands and fully rebranding is becoming a positive, more ever-present term in the new age of digital, social media, and the desire to stand out among competitors. But for North Carolina’s Gardner-Webb University, a basketball program brand messaging update based around a new team mission, recruiting and fan experiences drove Centerfold Agency to revamp its experiences while maintaining the program’s history and modernity.

Before fan and recruit experiences could be revamped, the new team’s mission had to be established.

“We are trying to communicate what makes Gardner-Webb Basketball a truly unique experience for our student-athletes,” said Tim Craft, head basketball coach. “By highlighting our program’s core values, a tradition of winning basketball both in our history and modern-day successes, devotion to a culture of family, and the development of our student-athletes athletically, academically, culturally, and spiritually, we can do so.”

Once its team mission was clearly defined, doors opened to a different strategy and tactic opportunities–delivering messages to each group. When reaching recruits, Gardner-Webb family, or fans, Craft believes the different messages make each group different.

He notes when dealing with recruits, the work and messages are more intimate and face-to-face than messages geared towards the less-personal, larger Gardner-Webb fan base.

“Each of these is an extremely important part of our program and they must all be at their best for us to achieve the greatest result possible,” said Craft.

Centerfold Principal Tim Rebich and Craft believe the update’s effectiveness rests in their ability to provide catching and visual ways to tie the program’s past and present into one.

“As we worked with athletic leadership, we wanted to exude that emotion through the updated visual elements within locker rooms, corridors, and the player’s lounge,” said Rebich. “The fan experience is very intimate, and you can feel the history, grit, and passion of the program throughout the arena.”

The imaging and experiences provide a second-to-none feel to the recruits and fans involved. For both Gardner-Webb, the long-haul effects of the branding are what boast as most important.

“It provides a strategic layout to the message that the recruit is getting in a way that resonates and leaves a lasting impression,” said Craft. “It also provides an experience that our coaching staff can continue to reference with recruits and their families after they leave the visit.”

Described as having a healthy culture and on-court success, Craft believed Gardner-Webb Basketball was missing a key aesthetic experience. With mediocre branding and an out of date locker and film room, Craft knew visual and rewarding changes had to be made.

“After our rebrand, there is a clear purpose behind every picture and every phrase displayed on our walls and all of them work in congruence to tell the story of our program and university.”

In addition to space not being used efficiently, Gardner-Webb consolidated its old video room into a functional player lounge, of which, Craft believes adds a lot of value to the program.

While the update is not completely finished, and the program has faced some struggles in the work, Craft heralds the commitment to being a branded leader in the Big-South conference, and ultimately in college basketball.

For Centerfold, as experiences and enhanced branding are schoolwork, Rebich knows sports programs and organizations are built on similar characteristics, and let’s these drive the conducted work.

“The inspiration, exploration, insights, history, and tradition of the program guide the team towards a unique brand solution,” said Rebich.

Craft, with confidence of the collaborative works coming together, knows his program is rooted in its proud history and legacy, and with relevant visual and experience updates, the program can only flourish more.

“There is now a permanent visual reminder that will help all those involved in the program remain dedicated and committed to the vision of Gardner-Webb basketball and our Bulldog DNA,” said Craft. “And it provides an eye-popping, attention-grabbing, display of what we want future Runnin’ Bulldogs to buy into and become.”

*Centerfold Agency is a Proud Partner of Front Office Sports